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Thread: Small party politics: why do small parties fail

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    Small party politics: why do small parties fail

    What does South African democracy and American democracy share? Both lean towards a two party system and the only impact smaller parties have is voter drainage however luckily in South Africa there is a shift. The emergence of COPE and the eff has shown the true power of smaller parties in governance as the influence they hold although draining votes they are able to hold bigger parties to account in all manners something the US lacks but why do only a few smaller parties remain as enforcers and why do most fail?

    The failure of small or upstart parties i would argue is based on three survival characteristics
    1. Support base
    2. Party stability
    3. Growth capacity

    The support base is the most obvious characteristic of any party as without some support the party cannot exist. It is because of support that large parties such as the ANC an DA can grow alongside receiving funding and maintain control over governance. If a parties survival is based on support why do small parties fail? The support of small parties relies on a constant flow of members. This is the bloodline of any party the in and outflow of members, the in and outflow of support. The ANC has seen the negative side of this flow recently as the outflow of members and support has surpassed the influx. This is how party politics function through the constant attempt to balance the inflow and outflow support it is maintaining balance that allows a party to survive and for upstart parties it is maintaining support that ensures their survival many parties such as the Cape Party cannot become viable because they cannot balance support and end up losing more support than what they are gaining. For large parties their entrenched support allows them the free reign to balance support over election cycles as they still maintain forms of power but small or upstart parties dont have such a luxury thus they either garner fixed support and balance the outflow with influx such as the eff or their support base crumbles such as the minority front

    What makes the DA and EFF so resilient to criticism and ensuring they dont split? It is their ability to maintain a unified leadership. When people do not have a unified interest or goal they conflict and split with people who agree with them. The ability to contain separatism defines a stable leadership and a stable party. If separatism cannot be contained the party deteriorates and struggles to survive and fail. When the leadership conflicts the party fails and loses its power. Examples of party instability causing the decrease in support and party failure can be seen with the leadership problems within COPE and AGANG leading a decrease in their support. Small parties that have shown success through maintaining their leadership is the EFF and UDM.

    The final characteristic ensuring the future of small parties acting as ways in keeping larger parties to account through survival is the management of party growth. A party with sustainable voter support and growth even a small party with a sustainable voter and membership growth is able to survive and maintain some form of representation allowing the party to survive. The parties with consistency and growth is eff and udm.

    All these characteristics reveal that although smaller parties struggle to get into government or leader positions they are instrumental to ensure bigger parties do not overextend their mandates and bully governance and legislature aspects of politics. We must thus ensure these parties grow to ensure a multi party system

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    When it comes to small party politics, what is your definition of failure?

    Sometimes the only objective is for one person to hold a seat at parliament. As long as they achieve that, their mission is accomplished.
    Is that "failure" in your eyes?

    Many of these small parties don't want to rule the world.
    Or South Africa.
    Or even be "king makers".
    All they want is to represent their constituency and/or get a narrow set of issues on the agenda.
    If they succeed in drawing attention to their pet issues, is that failure in your eyes?

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    Good reply
    A failed party is one that struggles to maintain its agenda as you mentioned not every party wants to rule sa but if they set up an agenda but fails to at least move towards it it is a failed party. One example is the cape party that wants to get a seat in cape town metro but has never been able to thus the agenda of a free cape cannot be filled

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